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The Quiet Revolution That Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family

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  • Claudia Goldin

Abstract

The modern economic role of women emerged in four phases. The first three were evolutionary; the last was revolutionary. Phase I occurred from the late nineteenth century to the 1920s; Phase II was from 1930 to 1950; Phase III extended from 1950 to the late 1970s; and Phase IV, the "quiet revolution," began in the late 1970s and is still ongoing. Three aspects of women's choices distinguish the evolutionary from the revolutionary phases: horizon, identity, and decision-making. The evolutionary phases are apparent in time-series data on labor force participation. The revolutionary phase is discernible using time-series evidence on women's more predictable attachment to the workplace, greater identity with career, and better ability to make joint decisions with their spouses. Each of these series has a sharp break or inflection point signifying social and economic change. These changes, moreover, coincide by birth cohort or period. The relationship between the development of modern labor economics and the reality of women's changing economic role is explored. The paper concludes by assessing whether the revolution has stalled or is being reversed. Women who graduated college in the early 1980s did not "opt-out,"but recent cohorts are too young to evaluate.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Goldin, 2006. "The Quiet Revolution That Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 1-21, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:2:p:1-21
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282806777212350
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/000282806777212350
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 133-156, Fall.
    2. Goldin, Claudia, 1984. "The historical evolution of female earnings functions and occupations," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 1-27, January.
    3. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1993. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 988-1010, December.
    4. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
    5. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1997. "Swimming Upstream: Trends in the Gender Wage Differential in 1980s," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 1-42, January.
    6. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Mehmet Yorukoglu, 2005. "Engines of Liberation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 109-133.
    7. Claudia Olivetti, 2006. "Changes in Women's Hours of Market Work: The Role of Returns to Experience," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 557-587, October.
    8. Goldin, Claudia D, 1991. "The Role of World War II in the Rise of Women's Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 741-756, September.
    9. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
    10. Goldin, Claudia, 1998. "America's Graduation from High School: The Evolution and Spread of Secondary Schooling in the Twentieth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 345-374, June.
    11. Claudia Goldin, 1989. "The Role of World War II in the Rise of Women's Work," NBER Working Papers 3203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Mincer, Jacob & Polachek, Solomon, 1974. "Family Investment in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 76-108, Part II, .
    13. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
    14. Moehling, Carolyn M., 2001. "Women'S Work And Men'S Unemployment," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(04), pages 926-949, December.
    15. Claudia Goldin, 2005. "From the valley to the summit: a brief history of the quiet revolution that transformed women's work," Regional Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Q 1, pages 5-12.
    16. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    17. repec:hrv:faseco:30703975 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Edith Abbott, 1906. "The History of Industrial Employment of Women in the United States: An Introductory Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14, pages 461-461.
    19. Heather Boushey, 2005. "Are Women Opting Out? Debunking the Myth," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2005-36, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    20. Clarence D. Long, 1958. "The Labor Force Under Changing Income and Employment," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number long58-1, June.
    21. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299.
    22. repec:hrv:faseco:30703972 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-349, June.
    24. Caroline M. Hill, 1904. "The Economic Value of the Home," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12, pages 408-408.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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